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First Report of “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum” on Tomato in Honduras

    Authors and Affiliations
    • E. Aguilar , Zamorano University, Km 30 carretera a Danlí, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    • V. G. Sengoda , USDA-ARS, Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, 5230 Konnowac Pass Road, Wapato, WA 98951
    • B. Bextine , University of Texas at Tyler, 3900 University Blvd., Tyler, TX 75799
    • K. F. McCue , USDA-ARS, Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit, 800 Buchanan Street, Albany CA 94710
    • J. E. Munyaneza , USDA-ARS, Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, 5230 Konnowac Pass Road, Wapato, WA 98951

      Tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum) crops grown in several departments of Honduras and heavily infested with the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli were observed in April of 2012 with plant symptoms suggestive of “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum” infection. B. cockerelli is a serious pest of potato, tomato, and other solanaceous plants and a vector of “Ca. L. solanacearum” (1,2,3,4). The symptoms included overall chlorosis, severe stunting, leaf cupping, excessive branching of axillary shoots, and leaf purpling and scorching (2,3). Disease incidence ranged from 5 to 50% symptomatic plants per field. Tomato (cv. Pony) plant samples were collected from two psyllid-infested commercial fields in the municipalities of Danli and Comayagua in the departments of El-Paraiso and Comayagua, respectively. Total DNA was extracted from leaf tissues of 50 and 20 symptomatic and asymptomatic plants, respectively, with the cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) buffer extraction method (1,3). The DNA samples were tested for “Ca. L. solanacearum” by PCR with primer pairs specific for 16S rDNA (OA2 and OI2c) and the outer membrane protein gene (OMB 1482f and 2086r) of the bacterium (1,2). Ten (20%) of the 50 symptomatic tomato samples were positive for “Ca. L. solanacearum” using both primer pairs and the remaining samples were negative for the bacterium with both primer sets. None of the 20 asymptomatic plants tested positive for “Ca. L. solanacearum”. Amplicons from DNA of two plant samples (one plant/municipality) with each primer pair were cloned and four clones of each of the four amplicons were sequenced. BLASTn analysis of the 16S rDNA consensus sequences from the clones (deposited in GenBank as Accession Nos. KC768321 and KC768322) were identical for both locations and showed 99 to 100% identity to several “Ca. L. solanacearum” sequences in GenBank (e.g., JN848753, JN84856, and HM246509). The OMB consensus sequences from the two tomato plants (deposited in GenBank as KC768329 and KC768330) were 100% identical to OMB sequences of Lso in GenBank (CP002371 and JN48754, respectively). To our knowledge, this is the first report of “Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum” associated with tomato crops in Honduras. This bacterium has caused millions of dollars in losses to the tomato industry in the United States, Mexico, and New Zealand (2,3,4). Serious damages to tomato crops due to “Ca. L. solanacearum” could expand throughout Central America, especially in those countries where B. cockerelli occurs.

      References: (1) J. M. Crosslin. Southwest. Entomol. 36:125, 2011. (2) L. W. Liefting et al. Plant Dis. 93:208, 2009. (3) J. E. Munyaneza et al. Plant Dis. 93:1076, 2009. (4) J. E. Munyaneza. Am. J. Pot. Res. 89:329, 2012.